Editorial: Missing out on an opportunity

May 2, 2014 

The carrot Zebulon leaders held out to the arts community wasn’t enough to keep them interested in Zebulon, especially once the town made it clear there was no other option. Now, Knightdale seems poised to take advantage of the opportunities provided by arts leaders.

Zebulon had backed off its previous policy prohibiting the lease of town owned properties in downtown that are up for sale. They were willing to provide a lease in return for guarantees that the United Arts Council and local arts supporters could show strong enough financials to prove they could last through the life of the lease.

With funds for nonprofits scarce even in good times, that was really a non-starter for a group that was largely starting from scratch.

So when some civic-minded investors approached the town to buy the building outright, the money just wasn’t good enough.

Zebulon’s decision now appears to be costing the town an opportunity to provide its residents with a significant cultural opportunity.

Knightdale leaders, who have been trying to figure out what to do with the Watson House at Knightdale Station Park, are now eyeing the possibility of hosting Arts Council programming there.

And, to be clear, there’s nothing that says Zebulon residents can’t take advantage of the offerings in their neighboring eastern Wake County town.

They can.

But it clearly won’t be as convenient. And for some in Zebulon, a Knightdale location puts the arts out of reach again.

And, all the while, Zebulon’s downtown continues to stagnate. With few anchor businesses and far too many vacant storefronts, it’s time Zebulon leaders begin to focus some resources on that part of town. A town with a dilapidated ghost-town of a downtown, is in a worse position than a town that doesn’t even have a true downtown.

There’s much sound infrastructure in place in Zebulon’s downtown. Wide streets and wide sidewalks make travel by car and foot easy and pleasant.

And, while all that’s good, the town needs to look for opportunities at every turn to encourage entrepreneurs to locate in downtown. And, they should work hard not to turn any interested parties away.

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